Friday, January 29, 2010
Today is a big pitch for me. I've never had a child, but labor pains during child birth seem like it would be neck and neck in terms of pleasant experiences compared with pitching. And the bigger the pitch, the more the pain. I have to take something to go to sleep the night before, talk to myself for hours about how great I'll be - they'll love it. they'll love it?
And yet still, there are some of those pitches, like the one I had with Halle Berry where I started sweating profusely, couldn't talk, breathe, and sat there in some sort of post-traumatic-stress reenactment of the time I was in WWII trapped on the beaches of Normandy.
Another lovely incident happened with Jada Pinkett Smith, when I full-on started hyperventilating in a meeting.
The thing is - you take a writer, the one person who has decided for a living to sit in a room by themself and shine a spotlight on them and tell them "dance monkey dance!" They don't always deliver.
I thought it was just me, then noticed that almost all of the seminars I'd go to at the Writers Guild had some Oscar award winning writer giving tips about getting over the jingly jangly's as I call them.
Now, that's not to say I ALWAYS get the jingly jangly's or that they bring me down like the great elephant when I do. (side note: Halle signed on to that project that I was so freaked out about, and I've sold a show to NBC after a mini-meltdown in the meeting with the powers that be, sometimes people just understand).
But, here are the best things I've learned about beating them so if you have a pitch coming up, or are too nervous to approach someone that you'd like to pitch, here are some tips, if it alleviates even 20% of the anguish, I've done my job.
1. Overprepare. Practice on your friends, business associates and partners, representation as much as possible. That way if the worst part of the pitch is your nerves it'll be okay, at least what you're pitching will be on point.
2. When the assistants come out and ask if you'd like something to drink - say yes! if they have tea - try that, it's very soothing, and it gives you an excuse to blow on it to cool it down, when really you're practicing conscious breathing.
3. Wear a jacket, or a shirt over another shirt, or a blazer. Really, the worst thing is to just wear one shirt that gets soaked through because of your nerves now you are not only a nervous baboon, you are a wet nervous baboon.
4. Bring your pitch with you on notecards or on paper in as organized a manner as possible and read from them if you have to. It's easy to get lost when you're jittery.
5. Remember to keep telling yourself in your head, "there's no reason to be nervous. I can do this." And I stand beside you in wishing you well and believing with you - that you can.